Monday, January 19, 2015

What In the World Is Going On? The “Stage of Truth” is Empty

About five to six years ago I had the privilege of teaching/facilitating a discipleship course entitled “The Theology Program.” This was a wonderful teaching tool to help believers grow in their understanding of theology in a general way and Biblical Christianity more specifically. The program was developed by two Dallas Seminary graduates, Michael Patton and Rhome Dyck, both of whom hold Th.M. degrees.

Each student enrolled in the program watched the DVDs, had workbooks to read and take notes in, memorized relevant theological vocabulary words and completed various projects. Each student also had to read sections of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology and selected chapters of The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity & Diversity by Roger Olson. This was, by far, one of the most challenging courses of study for all of the students in attendance. This program far exceeded the average home Bible study in scope, requirements, and rewards. The students continually commented on their increase in knowledge and growth throughout the eighteen months that we were together.

I mention all of this, not as an advertisement for The Theology Program (though I would highly recommend it), but to share with you one particular topic that was taught by Michael and Rhome that will help all of us as we begin the new year.

In one of the classes, Michael and Rhome talk about “the stage of truth.” Very briefly, their discussion went like this:
During the Pre-modern era of Church history (400 A.D. – 1600 A.D.), the primary source of truth for the Church was Scripture. “Tradition” was a close second to Scripture (as a source of truth) because not everyone could read at that time in history, nor did everyone have a copy of the Bible. “Tradition” based upon Biblical truths, could be handed down from one generation to another (verbally) thereby continuing one’s dependence upon Scripture as their sole source of absolute truth.

During the Modern Era of Church history (1600 A.D. – 1900 A.D.), things began to change rapidly. With the advent of the printing press, people were now learning to read, books were being printed, knowledge was growing and man was discovering much about himself and the natural world around him. This, of course, led to reason/logic and science moving up on to the “stage of truth,” so much so, that Scripture and tradition are being slowly, but surely, replaced as the source of truth even within the Church. Reason and logic promised a future “utopia” for all of mankind because science and logic would show man the way to peace and prosperity for everyone.

Fast forward to the Post-Modern Era (1900 – present). Some things happened that caused yet another shift in where people were searching for truth. World War I & II showed how reason and science were not able to help man create his utopian world. There were many differing opinions amongst scientists and philosophers causing great division and strife when it came to where one could look to find “the truth.” As a result of that strife and division, reason and science were also removed from the “stage of truth” just like the Bible and tradition had been in earlier history. During this time-period, nothing appears to be consistent. People became pessimistic and scared; they no longer trusted reason, science, or logic. Therefore, people chose not to listen to any of the previous sources of truth. With Scripture, tradition, reason, science and logic all removed from the “stage of truth,” the question was asked, “Where, now, can we go to find truth?” The answer was then, and still is now, “With no source of truth outside of ourselves, we will each become our own source of truth.” Each person’s own opinion, regardless of any facts to the contrary, became their own source of truth. Which, ultimately, leads to: relativism.

Relativism reigns supreme our current post-modern world. Essentially the post-modern mind says, “Whatever you believe is true for you is true, regardless of any evidence against it.” The law of non-contradiction has no influence in the post-modern mind. A ridiculous, yet striking, example would be: 2+2 can equal 5 – if that’s true for you.

To the post-modern mind, relationships and feelings are far more important than absolute truth because the post-modern mind doesn’t believe in absolute truth from any outside source. Tolerance is most valued above all else. The post-modern mindset is far less objective and far more subjective. Post-modern people are more open minded and willing to accept someone else’s beliefs even if those beliefs are objectively found to be false. Emotions and experience play a huge role in the post-modern mind.

Michael and Rhome’s discussion regarding the “stage of truth” was a little more detailed than what I’ve shared with you but I’ve given you the most important points.

Why I have shared this with you? Good question! For many years, we have watched as decisions have been made within our churches, our communities, our cities, states and the highest places of our federal government. Many of those decisions have been confusing to say the least. Believers have been asking, “Why would they decide to do that? That’s so wrong! What is going on in our world today?”

Recently, in our government, we’ve seen countless hearings into everything from the murder of an American ambassador and three other Americans at Benghazi, to the Fast and Furious gun running scheme into Mexico, to the IRS targeting of conservative organizations, to lies told to the American people regarding the Affordable Care Act. Has anyone been held accountable? Has the “truth” been revealed? No. What’s happened is a “walking back” of what was said; a “spin” of the comments; a “parsing” of the words.

Remember, that, unless those in power are true believers, their “stage of truth” has nothing on it from which to determine right from wrong, truth from lies. They are their own source of truth.

Some people get elected to positions of great power and responsibility but their “stage of truth” is empty. Right and wrong are no longer determined based upon the objective truths found in the Bible. Decisions are made for purely political reasons, for the advancement of a career, an agenda or an ideology that finds no basis in God’s Word.

In a world where there is no standard of absolute truth (i.e., the Bible), everyone becomes a law unto himself/herself. Here are some of the conclusions found within that particular mindset:
  1. “You can worship any god you want to worship. All roads lead to heaven.”
  2. “Your parents owe you because, after all, they messed up this world.”
  3. “A woman has the right to do what she wants with her body. Abortion isn’t murder because it’s not a real baby.”
  4. “Who needs marriage? Enjoy yourself with as many people as you want to. Marriage is old fashioned and out of date.”
  5. “That store makes so much money. If I take this from them, they’ll never miss it.”
  6. “So what if I didn’t tell the truth? He [she] deserves to get in trouble, not me.”
  7. “My husband [or wife] and I are having some problems with our marriage and I needed to be with someone who understands me. It was just sex ~ no big deal.”
  8. “He [she] doesn’t deserve those things -- I do! I hate the fact that they’re so successful.”

Were it not for our Sovereign God, we could easily find ourselves in deep despair over what’s currently happening in our society and around the world. However, as believers, we need to remember that God’s still in charge. He’s still on the throne and no one is ever going to knock Him off of His throne.

There is a day coming, yet future, when God will make all things right according to His Word; when we will live under the royal monarchy of King Jesus, who will reign with righteousness. As believers, we hunger and thirst for righteousness because we’ve been born again from above; we have the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within us. He is growing us, changing us and making us more and more like our Savior. It’s a life-long process but He who began that process is faithful to complete it.

With regard to the evil choices and actions that we see happening – as a direct result of the “stage of truth” being empty and people being a law unto themselves – the prophet Isaiah reveals God’s thoughts regarding what we’re seeing happen in our society today:

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
And clever in their own sight!
22 Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine,
And valiant men in mixing strong drink;
23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe,
And take away the rights of the ones who are in the right!” (Isaiah 5:20-23)

For all true believers, our hope lies not here in this present world-system, its leaders, or its political structures; our hope does not lie in any religious affiliations or specific denominations. Rather, our hope is found in the truths that we see in the Scriptures. Here are a few verses to encourage us and to remind us of where our hope should always be:

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope;” (1 Tim. 1:1).

It is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance. For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.” (1 Tim. 4:9-10).

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.” (Heb. 10:23-25).

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thes. 4:13-18).

And finally, I will leave you with the apostle John’s words from his vision of the future, our future; the future of all those who trusting, solely, in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and the gift of eternal life:

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’ And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ And He said, ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’ And He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.’” (Rev. 21:1-8).

Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Perhaps today!  

By His Grace,
Dr. Gary T. Dromi